As we approach the end of the first phase of lock-down – not knowing what the autumn and winter will bring – we shall be able to gather next week (September 6) in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s day for a service of worship, reduced in numbers able to attend and also reduced in length.
Everyone, including those who are not able to attend or who prefer not to, will continue to receive the weekly reflection, which Geoff has been nobly circulating and which Elders have been delivering over these past months.
For this Sunday, August 30, one of the recommended Bible readings contains Paul’s clear instruction to the church in Rome and to us:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12, vv9-13)
This is a kind of checklist of Christian attitudes and practice. We are to live like this. As Sabrina wrote last week, it’s not that Christians have a monopoly of this kind of determined unselfishness, but it is certainly what we should aim for as we seek to follow Jesus who, as Paul writes elsewhere, ‘loved me and gave himself for me’. We are to be thankful people, sustained in faith, hope and love.
Nor do we need to be in a congregation week by week to live this life – it’s just much more demanding when we cannot meet, as you and I surely know by now. Our morale and our faithfulness is certainly strengthened by meeting regularly, sharing in the ministry of Word and Sacrament. I have often prayed for ‘the housebound’ but not really understood their plight until lock-down forced us all to experience it, even partially. I also need to acknowledge that I have not been on the phone as much as I intended; nor am I the only one, I guess. So apologies to those who may feel at all neglected as ‘housebound’.
Somehow September feels as though life ought to be starting up again – and it isn’t. So patience and hope, good Christian virtues, are still required. Plus all the suggestions made by Paul in the quote above.
And why not check out Matthew 6, v6. God bless.